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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

The Need for Love of Friends

Article No. 14, 1987/88

There are many merits to it:

1) It brings one out of self-love and to love of others. It is as Rabbi Akiva said, “Love thy friend as thyself is the great rule of the Torah,” since by that he can come to love the Creator.

However, we should know that loving others or working for the benefit of others is not the purpose of creation, as the secular understand it. The world was not created for one to do favors to another. Rather, the world was created for each one to receive pleasure for himself. Saying that we must work to benefit others is only the correction of creation, not the purpose of creation. The correction is so that there will not be the matter of shame, so there was a correction of bestowal, which is the only way for the creatures to receive the complete delight and pleasure for themselves without the flaw of shame.

In that regard, we should interpret what The Zohar says about the verse, “‘But sin is a reproach to any people,’ all the good that they do, they do for themselves.”

We can interpret “all the good,” meaning the acts of grace that they do, as referring to their intention, which is called “for them,” meaning for themselves. This means that it is according to their own understanding and not that we were given the keeping of “love thy friend as thyself” as a commandment of the Creator, who created the world with the aim to do good to His creations. The Mitzvot [commandments] that we were given are only to cleanse people, by which they will achieve Dvekut [adhesion] with the Creator, who will help them receive delight and pleasure, and they will remain in Dvekut with the Creator.

2) By the friends uniting into a single unit, they receive strength to appreciate the purpose of their work—to achieve Lishma [for Her name]. Also, the rule by which they were brought up is, as Maimonides said, “Women, children, and ordinary people are taught to work out of fear and to receive reward until they gain knowledge and acquire much wisdom. And then they are taught that secret bit by bit.”

And since we must wait “until they acquire much wisdom” to tell them that they need to work in Lishma, and a great number among the masses naturally remains in Lo Lishma [not for Her name], and since the minority naturally annuls before the majority, when the friends wish to walk on the path that leads to Lishma, to avoid annulment before the collective, the friends unite and each one is dedicated to the others. Their aim is to achieve love of the Creator, which is the purpose, through the love of others, as it is written, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

It follows that by becoming one collective, although it is a small collective, they are already regarded as a majority, and this majority is not enslaved to the majority of the collective. Thus, they can work in love of friends with the aim to achieve the love of the Creator.

And although the commandment to love your friend as yourself applies to the whole of Israel, the whole of Israel are not walking on the path of coming from love of others to love of the Creator. Also, there is a rule that when people unite they absorb each other’s views, and the matter of Lishma—the essential aim of Torah and Mitzvot—has not yet been fixed in a man’s heart, meaning that the main intention is that through keeping Torah and Mitzvot they can achieve Lishma. Hence, by bonding with others, the views of the others weaken his view of Lishma. For this reason, it is better to serve and to bond with the kind of people who understand that the matter of “love thy friend as thyself” is only a means to achieve the love of the Creator, and not because of self-love, but that his whole aim will be to benefit the Creator. Hence, one should be careful in bonding and know with whom one bonds.

This is the benefit of love of friends in a special group, where everyone has a single goal of achieving love of the Creator. But when bonding with regular people, although they engage in Torah and Mitzvot, they aren’t on the path of achieving the aim to bestow upon the Creator, since they were brought up in order to receive, called Lo Lishma. Hence, if they unite with them, they will adopt their views, and afterwards they will say that it is better to not walk on the path toward achieving Lishma because Lishma is more difficult than Lo Lishma, since Lishma is against nature. For this reason, one should be careful not to bond with people who haven’t acquired much knowledge and still haven’t come to know that the essence of the work of the Creator is to benefit the Creator and not to benefit themselves.

But the matter of “love thy friend as thyself” applies to the whole of Israel. Yet, we were given the keeping of knowing with whom to bond in advance. And the reason is that before a person is rewarded with exiting self-love, he always feels that it is hard. This is because the body resists it, and if he is in an environment of a group of people who are united under one view, that considers the goal and not the work, then his goal will not weaken in him.

But if he is not always together with his friends, it is very difficult for one to hang on to the goal of bestowal. He needs heaven’s mercy to not grow weak in his mind, which previously realized that it was better to work and to walk on the path of the work of bestowal.

And all of a sudden he gets thoughts that it is better to follow the crowd, that one shouldn’t be an exception, although while he was united with the friends he thought differently. It is as we said above: While he is not bonded with the collective of the small group, he immediately surrenders to the collective of the masses and absorbs their views that it is enough to keep Torah and Mitzvot in all its details and precisions, and to aim that we are keeping the King’s commandment, who commanded us through Moses and through the sages following him. We settle for that, since we will receive reward for it, and we believe in our sages who told us, “Trust your landlord to pay you for your work.” And why should we think about anything more than that? As they say, “If we keep that, it is enough.”

It is as Rabbi Hananiah, Son of Akashiah says, “The Creator wished to reward Israel, so He gave them plentiful Torah and Mitzvot.” This means that all the Torah and Mitzvot that we were given are so we may have a great reward.

Thus, now the person has become smarter than he was while he was united in the society, when he understood that one simply needs to work for the Creator and not for his own benefit, and one needs to come out of self-love and be rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator. And although he saw that it was difficult to come out of self-love, he realized that this was a true path, meaning that a person should come to work Lishma.

But while he is separated from that society, he immediately falls into the majority view, which is the majority of the world. In other words, the majority of Israel has not yet come to what Maimonides said, “Until they gain much wisdom, they are told that secret,” which is the necessity to work Lishma.

And when that person enters the society, whose way is that it is necessary to achieve Lishma, the question arises, “How did this person end up in such a place?” We must believe that it came from above.

Accordingly, we should understand why, afterwards, he drifts away from the society. We should say, as Baal HaSulam said, that when a person begins to walk on the path of Lishma—and certainly this aim comes to a person who is given an awakening to the path of truth—and afterwards, for some reason, he is negligent in this work and relapses to the ordinary path of the collective, he asked, “Why is he not given another awakening from above?”

He gave an allegory about that. It is similar to a person who is swimming in the river. Halfway across the river, he grows weak, and a person swimming next to him gives him a push so he will start swimming by himself. The person who is trying to save him gives a few pushes, but if he sees that he doesn’t participate, he leaves him and moves away. Only when he sees that when he pushes him, he begins to swim by himself does he keep pushing him each time until he’s out of danger. But if he doesn’t participate, he leaves him.

It is the same in the work. A person receives an awakening from above so he will come to a place where people work knowingly in order to achieve being in order to bestow contentment upon the Creator. And a person is given several awakenings, but if he doesn’t make an effort to reach that, he finds excuses for himself and must escape the campaign. Thus, a person remains righteous; that is, by leaving this society, he is always right. And by justifying himself, he truly feels that he is righteous.

Therefore, one must cling to the society. And since they are united, they are regarded as a collective, too. However, theirs is a big collective, while his society is a small collective. And yet, a collective does not annul before a collective.

3) There is a special power in the adhesion of friends. Since views and thoughts pass from one to the other through the adhesion between them, each is mingled with the power of the other, and by that each person in the group has the power of the entire group. For this reason, although each person is an individual, he contains the power of the entire group.

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